Maryland may be 1-3, but it still can face off with lacrosse's best

Bill Tanton

April 08, 1993|By Bill Tanton

One thing about lacrosse that puzzles people, especially University of Maryland followers, is the Terps' recent inability to win national championships.

Let's get a couple things straight right away:

Maryland is not a lacrosse wasteland, despite the team's current 1-3 record (losses to Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia plus a win over Cornell).

Two years ago the Terps went to the NCAA Final Four. Last year they went to the tournament quarterfinals and lost, 11-10, to Princeton, which then went on to win the NCAA title.

Just last weekend Maryland went into overtime, and had four separate possessions, before losing, 11-10, at Virginia. The Cavaliers are a talented, top 10 team. Maryland is No. 12 in the USILA coaches' poll, unranked in the Baltimore Sun poll, which lists only 10 teams.

Another thing: If Maryland is not winning enough titles to suit some people, the coach, Dick Edell, is hardly to blame. Edell, in his 10th season at Maryland, his 20th as a college head coach, is one of the most accomplished in his field. Last year he was the Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year.

And yet, Maryland hasn't won a national championship since 1975.

You hear people say they can't understand that. They think Maryland -- the flagship university in the state system -- should still be winning occasional national championships, as it did in the '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s and in '73 and '75.

"There was a time," says Edell, "when Johns Hopkins and Maryland dominated the sport and competed for the championship and, if you go back a little, when Navy and Army also won titles. I'm sure there are people at those schools who wonder why they're not winning championships the way they used to.

"There are more schools out there now that can win the championship. Willie Scroggs went to North Carolina in '78 and built a championship program. Syracuse was the dominant team in the '80s. Bill Tierney went to Princeton and produced last year's champion.

"For 10 years my staff and I have put everything we're humanly capable of into making our program successful.

"Recruiting is a battle, but it's no harder in '93 than it was in '83. We had our scholarships cut, but all our sports lost 10 percent of their grants. Football went from 95 to 85, basketball from 15 to 13. Lacrosse, which had 14, was reduced by 1.4 scholarships. All that was part of NCAA cost-cutting. But that's not the reason we haven't won a championship."

Two or three great players often make the difference between champions and contenders, and Maryland is not getting the great players it once did.

Its '75 champions had three first team All-Americans: Frank Urso and Doug Radebaugh, both in the Hall of Fame now, and Mike Farrell. The '73 champs had four first-teamers: Urso, Doug Schreiber, Mike Thearle and Pat O'Meally.

Last year Maryland had one first team All-American: Brian Burlace. The year before, it had one: Mark Douglas. The year before that (1990) it had none.

Nevertheless, Maryland remains a team that can play with anybody -- it has beaten archrival Hopkins the last two years -- and has the potential this year to get in the hunt.

"If they were picking the tournament field now," says Edell, "I wouldn't like our chances. But when you still have to play a No. 6 and a No. 8 and whatever Carl is when we play him [Towson State coach Carl Runk] we can play our way into the tournament."

That task resumes Saturday when the Terps play at Navy, which is fresh off a 10-8 win over Army. Navy is ranked No. 7 by The Sunpapers and No. 8 by the USILA.

Next Maryland hosts Hopkins in a Friday night game April 16, then plays in the Atlantic Coast Conference tourney at College Park before closing its regular season against VMI, Towson State (rescheduled for May 5 at Towson) and UMBC.

The NCAA Final Four will be held at refurbished Byrd Stadium May 29 and 31. The Final Four also will be held there in '94 and '95.

This year, the NCAA Division III men's championship game will be played at Maryland on May 30. The women's collegiate and Division III championships also will be held at Byrd Stadium, May 15-16.

With all this championship hoopla in their midst, Dick Edell's Terps don't want to be left out.

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